Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It's Book Club Time Again! This time - To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I think this is my all-time favorite book.  I grew up in an in-between era.  I was born after the Civil Rights movement but with people who were still unaware of their racism and prejudices.  It took a long time, and many corrections, for my mother to stop referring to "her black friend."  I think To Kill A Mockingbird really exemplifies things that are still wrong with society today - where skin color makes a difference in every facet of life...but no one will admit it.  Much of our society likes to think we are in a post-racial society, but we're not.  Not really.

How do I know this?  Well, I belong to a political discussion group on FB - it's comprised of a mixture of people with different ages, races, education and income levels, and views.  Mostly we keep things cordial, but discussions about race come up a lot. When you have Ivy League educated professionals discussing how race still affects their everyday lives, we are not post-racial.

In recent days, there have apparently been some interesting trending topics on Twitter - one is #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen - and is in regards to the way the feminist movement excludes women of color.  Here's the story if you're interested.  A related topic is #blackpowerisforblackmen which outlines the misogyny and racism within the black community itself.  I'm not a user of Twitter, but this sort of thing appeals - you can join in the stream of conversation.  Or you can, after the heat of the moment has passed, return to the conversation and see if you see yourself there.   Either way, I think these topics started some conversations, and that's progress.

But back to the book.  In addition to just being a good story with really well-written characters who feel like family, there are so many different messages in To Kill A Mockingbird.  There is the obvious racial theme.  There is the theme of white privilege.  There is the theme of the underdog.  There is the theme of familial abuse.  There is the theme of familial love and loyalty.  There is the theme of living an unconventional life.

 For me, I think the most important theme. the one that has stuck with me, is the theme of standing up for what's right, no matter the personal cost.  Most days, I'm not sure that I have the strength of character to always do what's right.  Other days, I'm confronted with the choice, and fortunately, so far, I've mostly chosen the right path, rather than the easy one.

I guess that's my question, then - which theme/message stuck with you the most, and why?

 After you answer my question, please click over to read the rest of the book club questions for To Kill a Mockingbird.  You can get your own copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee at bookstores including Amazon.

*Side note:  Because I transferred high schools between my sophomore and junior years, I was able to use To Kill A Mockingbird for class assignments 3 years running.  Maybe that's why I love the book so much.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Workaround

I work for state government.  This means that when you have a problem, no one will actually let you take the steps necessary to solve the problem.  They will only tell you how to work around the problem.  I encountered this recently when I called attention to a photography issue with one of the people involved in directing our policies.  I raised a philosophical question and got a workaround in response.  (However, since I am not generally satisfied with glib answers, I responded and got a half-hearted assurance that the issue is something we really should discuss in more detail.  If nothing else, I am excellent at starting arguments!)

I thought that out in the real world, people actually attempted to solve problems instead of just working around them.  But I was amused to find not one,but two, examples of the workaround in my inbox this morning.

Google's new tab-based system for their email is...mildly annoying.  Some people find it helpful, but I don't have hundreds of emails to sort through on a daily basis.  Therefore, it's more trouble than it's worth for me to have to sort through the tabs to see what's new in my inbox.  I would probably appreciate it more if I could make the tabs, rename them, and sort accordingly, but it's not a very customizable system.  Basically, Google does an auto-sort of things it thinks are personal, things it thinks are related to social media (G+, Facebook, YouTube, Blogger, etc) and things it thinks are non-spam promotional emails.  This would probably be more useful for me if I didn't take the coupons/discounts/deals bloggers advice and create a separate email account for all that crap.

This morning, however, the two emails were sent to ask me to put their emails into the primary (personal) tab in gmail.  Both are companies who were auto-sorted into the Promotions tab.  Well, that was fun, Google, but they've found the workaround to being shuffled off to the Ignore Me folder!

I wonder what the thinking behind the promotions tab was, anyway.  Companies want to show up on the front page, no matter what the circumstances are.  I also wonder if companies are pulling advertising in protest of being sidelined in their email marketing.  I look forward to Google next pulling the plug on Blogger, because it seems that they're trying to rid themselves of people who aren't paying them for something or another.  Irritating customers seems to be their current business model.

I'm also about halfway through Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, in which Google has a strong background role.  This may be affecting my attitude, because the book, at least thus far, is about a conflict between books and the digital age.  I'm a fan of books. 

Meanwhile, over at Yahoo, if they switch their logo one more time, I'm going to lose my mind!  I've seen about 3 different ones in the last couple days.  I liked the old one.  Maybe they'll hit on a new one that works, but the ones I've seen have been less than spectacular.  I'm not sure what the workaround to a new logo is, though.  Cached pages or something?   

Well, there you have it.  My internet complaints for the day...